This city prides itself of maintaining pristine nature cohabitating with urban lifestyle, which makes it quite a pleasant experience. The culture in the city is what I really love though. There are small, out of the way coffee shops, fascinating people, and art exhibitions here than I have seen anywhere else.
Every time I visit this pretty city, I just have to visit the Pratt fine arts center, and at least check out whatever their current exhibitions are. Of course, the weather isn’t as great as Hawaii, but I would much prefer cool and pleasant, or even a few showers, to weather so hot I don’t even want to wander the streets in a city I’m visiting.
The River of History museum offers a self-guided tour that delves into the history of the region, from the original Ojibwe inhabitants up through today's maritime culture. The Soo Locks offer a great deal of information, as well. There is no admission charge to tour the facility or to visit the viewing platform, where one can watch boats actually going through the locks. This is a facility where boats (from small rowboats to large thousand foot ore boats) are raised or lowered from either Lake Superior's water level or Lake Huron's.
For those interested in the large boats that carry grain, coal, ore, and other cargoes across the Great Lakes, there is a museum set up in a former ore boat, the Valley Camp. Mission Point is a free, public park that offers a good location to watch the boats in the Saint Mary's River. One can almost always find other people there taking pictures of the boats as they pass through. Birds are another attraction of Mission Point. On our recent trip, I took quite a few pictures of seagulls and Canadian geese while my husband took pictures of the boats.
Clyde's Drive-In Restaurant, only a few yards from Mission Point, is an icon in the Soo. The menu is reasonably priced, and the food is excellent. Outside of the immediate area, Whitefish Point is about an hour's drive away and offers a Shipwreck Museum and the Whitefish Point Bird Sanctuary. The Bird Sanctuary offers excellent bird watching opportunities and classes, as well as nature trails that are free to the public.
There is also public beach access at Whitefish Point, and I spent quite a while looking for agates on the sandy beach. For anyone looking for a vacation place in the Great Lakes region, I highly recommend Sault Ste Marie.
They have many events throughout the summer including Christmas in July and Spring Fling which are huge crowd favorites and are a blast to attend. I wouldn’t recommend this location to someone with young children, but if you are over 21 and like to party this is a great, affordable place to vacation.
I would recommend eating from the barbecue that roasts the chicken and corn on the side of the road – it is some of the best chicken I have ever eaten! Be sure to visit the winery and drink some homemade wine and eat some cheese and pick up a few bottles to take home!
Start with a visit to Fort Sumter in the Charleston Harbor, where the first battle of the Civil War was waged. From its hallowed walls, you can get a wonderful view of downtown, including the famous “Battery,” and adjoining White Point Gardens, where impressive mansions line the oak-lined streets, and cannons and statuary dot the well-manicured park.
Just a short walk away is Rainbow Row, where the 18th Century townhomes are painted in brightly colored hues. Don’t forget to bring your camera, as this is one of the most-photographed streets in the city.
Lovers of sand and surf are a short drive from Folly Beach, a popular destination that boasts great fishing and surfing, and dozens of popular bars and restaurants that cater to crowds of all ages. Don’t miss the shrimp and grits at The Lost Dog Café on West Huron Street. Yummy!
The Old City Market is also a “must see” for visitors and a place that I always look forward to visiting. Vendors and street merchants sell their goods in open-air stands at reasonable prices. This is where you will find the heart and soul of Charleston, and be able to speak with those who have a personal connection to its history and charm.
Carolina’s on Exchange Street is a wonderful place to try regional specialties. Dubbed the original Southern bistro, this intimate eatery has a varied menu that regularly changes, to accommodate seasonal harvests. Charleston is my favorite US vacation ideas and I’m sure after one visit, it will become your vacation destination of choice, too. I’m looking forward to my next trip to Charleston.